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Shikakai – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & More!

By Dr Siddharth Gupta +2 more

The content has been written by a medical expert.

Introduction:  

Shikakai, also known as Shika in Tamil, Seekaaya in Telugu, and Soap pod in English, is a powerful ayurvedic plant that has been used for generations as a cleanser for healthy, long hair, dandruff management and relief in skin diseases. 


Shikakai, also known as Acacia concinna in scientific terms, is a shrub-like tree native to Central India. Acacia concinna (Leguminosae), a climbing shrub with oblong-shaped dark brown pods, bipinnate leaves, and pink flowers. It is typically found in the Indian subcontinent’s tropical woods.1

Properties of Shikakai: 

Shikakai  is a plant that is used in India for hair, dandruff, and skin disorders  

This herb has been studied to have  potential effect on constipation, jaundice, gum infections, leprosy,  malarial  fever  and ingredient of contraceptives.1, 2  

Shikakai is also known to have many beneficial properties:3 

  • May have anti-dandruff potential
  • May help with wound healing 
  • May have anti-hair fall potential
  • May be anti-inflammatory  
  • May have potential antifungal activity 
  • May have antibacterial activity 
  • May be potentially a good anti-oxidant 
  • May help with hair fall 

I would say shikakai is a natural remedy right at your fingertips. It is like a secret weapon against these pesky skin issues. This magical herb has been used for centuries to possibly manage leprosy and various skin-related conditions like oedema.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Did you know?

  • Shikakai has antimicrobial properties that help in treating scalp infections and preventing hair loss. source: ncbi
  • Shikakai can be used as a natural hair dye, providing a gentle and chemical-free alternative. source: PMC
  • Shikakai can be used as a natural remedy for scalp conditions like psoriasis and eczema. source: PMC
  • Shikakai is a natural remedy that can help alleviate constipation. source: upgovernor.gov.in
  • Shikakai is a good source of antioxidants, which help protect the body against oxidative stress. Source: NCBI
  • Shikakai has a high content of saponins, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. source:NCBI

Potential Uses of Shikakai:

Natural surfactant soap pods have been used for cleansing the scalp, strengthening the hair from the roots, offering relief from scaling, and reducing irritation, dryness, greasiness, and scaling of the scalp since ancient times.1  Shikakai means “fruit for hair”.4

When it comes to hair care, natural herbs are preferred. Shikakai has been utilised for skin and hair care since ancient times, and Ayurveda recognizes its advantages. Shikakai fruit pods that contain tiny seeds are used. Shikakai is a powerful plant that can help with a variety of diseases.4

Potential Uses of Shikakai for Hair

Shikakai may naturally soften and smoothen hair by releasing essential oils and vitamins that are important for hair growth. It may encourage hair development and may help maintain hair silky and lustrous. When used for hair, shikakai may help with the restoration of hair’s glossy texture, thickness and length. 

Shikakai is high in important nutrients, thus it may keep hair healthy and prevents breakage and brittleness, which are two of the most prevalent causes of hair loss. 

Potential Uses of Shikakai for Dandruff: 

Due to its potential antifungal, antibacterial, and nutritious characteristics, shikakai may be an excellent remedy for dandruff. No big studies show negative effects and can be used to treat the scalp and get rid of annoying dandruff problems. 

Shikakai may potentially be used as a common ingredient in hair masks. These cooling packs, which are usually made up of Shikakai, amla, yoghurt, and soap nut, can possibly provide welcome relief during hot weather, a nagging headache, or simply for a peaceful experience on a leisurely day. 

It may also have some effect on managing hair greying and potentially slow the process by using a hair pack containing shikakai, soap nut, and other herbal components such as amla.

If hair are cleaned with shikakai before applying hair dye (even natural hair dye) it may allow the colour to sink in better and remain on for longer. 

Also Read: 15 Home Remedies for Dandruff

Potential Uses of Shikakai for Hair Lice

Hair lice are an embarrassment and a serious concern. Shikakai, fortunately, also may have potential to help with hair lice. Its low pH value, together with its potential antifungal and antibacterial capabilities, shikakai may be able to help with hair lice issue. 

Potential Uses of Shikakai for Dry Scalp 

Shikakai may be able to help with dry scalp by potentially acting as a natural cleaner that does not remove essential oils. 

Also Read: 5 Ayurveda Herbs That Are Great for Hair

Potential Uses of Shikakai for Minor Wounds

Shikakai may help to treat minor scrapes and bruises on the scalp due to its potential characteristics. Shampoos and other lotions can irritate sensitive scalp skin but ground roasted shikakai paste may provide significant relief. 

A smooth pate of shikakai powder with turmeric and fresh neem leaves can be used to heal minor scalp cuts and wounds. This property would need further research to identify benefits of shikai for healing wounds in humans. 

Potential Uses of Shikakai for Scabies: 

Shikakai may be used to treat scabies as an antibacterial wash. To create the wash, you may soak turmeric in hot water for a few minutes and then mash it into a paste. Burn a long slice of shikakai directly in the fire until it gets dark. Allow it to cool before grinding it into a fine powder. Boil water and combine ground turmeric paste and ground shikakai powder. Strain and apply to the afflicted area as an antiseptic wash. 

Shikakai and turmeric both may have antifungal, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties, making this a good scabies wash. You must consult a doctor before using shikakai for scabies.

Potential Uses of Shikakai for Skin: 

Mixing a tablespoon of shikakai powder with a tablespoon of cream, almond powder, and turmeric may help to remove dead skin cells and give skin a natural glow. You must discuss with your dermatologist before using shikakai for any skin issues.

Potential Uses of Shikakai for Constipation: 

The potential suppository and purgative (laxative) properties of shikakai pods maybe helpful in treating constipation and reducing indigestion, abdominal cramps, and flatulence. It aids in the digestion of meals and the passage of faeces through the body. These properties of shikakai may be studied extensively to identify its full potential for human conditions such as constipation.

Potential Uses of Shikakai for Gum Infections: 

Shikakai’s may have anti-bacterial properties that are crucial in preventing tooth and gum infections.

It may also help with tooth decay and plaque build-up, as well as gingivitis and other gum diseases. These conditions may be studied for humans.

Potential Uses of Shikakai for Jaundice

Ayurveda states the efficacy of shikakai in the treatment of jaundice. It may help to stimulate the liver. However, if you are suffering from any condition related to liver, consult with a doctor before using shikakai.

Also Read: 12 Home Remedies for Jaundice

Potential Uses of Shikakai for Blood Sugar Level

Shikakai powder may help to regulate blood sugar levels to a normal level. It may have effect on keeping the blood sugar level balanced. However this potential property of shikakai needs to be tested further for humans. It is suggested that you must consult a qualified doctor.

Also Read: 8 Effective Herbs to Lower Blood Sugar

Potential Uses of Shikakai for Aging

Shikakai pods can be used to clean the skin after being soaked in water. This may help to make your skin look healthier if you apply it on a regular basis. It may also have some beneficial effects on symptoms of ageing. 

However, skin is a sensitive organ and you must consult your dermatologist before applying anything on your skin even if its a natural product.

Also Read: Foods to Eat & Avoid for Malaria

Though studies show the benefits of beetroot against various disease conditions, these studies are insufficient and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of beetroot on human health. 

In my opinion, shikakai is a true game-changer! It has proven to be a successful source of novel anti-hepatitis inhibitors. This incredible herb might hold a promise for innovative treatments and offers hope in the fight against hepatitis.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

How to Use Shikakai? 

Shikakai is available in five different forms5

  1. Shikakai powder  
  2. Shikakai oil  
  3. Shikakai hair soap 
  4. Shikakai hair pack 
  5. Shikakai body wash 
  6. Shikakai shampoo 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor. Your doctor will prescribe you the appropriate form based on your individual needs. 

I just read a research that suggested a saponin combination found in shikakai may be a fantastic weapon against obesity. It works by blocking an enzyme called pancreatic lipase, which stops our bodies from absorbing too much fat from food and may help prevent weight gain. While some saponins might not get fully absorbed by our bodies, studies have shown that many saponins might still fight obesity.

Dr. Smita barode, B.A.M.S, M.S.

Side Effects of Shikakai:  

The majority of studies have determined that shikakai may be safe to eat. However, excessive shikakai use can result in some of the adverse effects described below.5

  • Shikakai can cause asthma and respiratory problems if used excessively 
  • It can make the scalp oily if used regularly. 
  • Excessive shikakai consumption might cause nausea and even loose faeces. 
  • Consumption of these remaining seeds boiled in lukewarm water can be hazardous. 
  • Shikakai is also cause dry skin if used often. 
  • Shikakai is also known to produce bloating, which can leave a person feeling uneasy. 
  • Acidity is claimed to be caused by shikakai. 

Even Ayurvedic herbs may have specific side effects and may react differently in every person. Ensure that you consult an Ayurvedic physician before using it for proper guidance.

Precautions to Take with Shikakai: 

If you have one or more of these conditions, it is important to consult with your doctor before taking shikakai.5 

  • Shikakai consumption during pregnancy and breast-feeding may be detrimental to the baby. It is possible that it will impair the baby’s development. Shikakai should not be consumed by women who are pregnant or nursing. 
  • Internal dosages of shikakai that are too high or used for too long might cause stomach discomfort, nausea, and loose stools. 
  • Because saponin content has a spermicidal effect, it is advisable to avoid using it orally in patients who are undergoing infertility treatment. 
  • It can induce a variety of illnesses, including asthma and gastrointestinal difficulties, as well as bloating. 
  • It can also lead to gastric problems in the stomach that can cause bloating. 

Kindly do not self-medicate. Do not substitute, alter or discontinue any ongoing treatment on your own.

Frequently Asked Questions:  

What is Shikakai?

Shikakai is a traditional Indian medicinal herb that is particularly effective at preventing hair loss and dandruff.1 

How to Prepare Shikakai Powder at Home?

Take 500 grams shikakai, 100 grams reetha, 100 grams fenugreek seeds, tulsi leaves, hibiscus petals, and curry leaves. Allow two days for all of the components to dry in the sun. Grind them thoroughly, then store the shikakai powder in an airtight container until needed.3

How to Use Shikakai Powder for Hair Wash?

Overnight soak shikakai pods, reetha, and amla in water. The next day, bring the water to a boil until all of the ingredients have softened. Strain the mixture thoroughly and use it to wash hair like a shampoo.3 

How to Use Shikakai?

For hundreds of years, Shikakai has been used in India for hair treatment. The Shikakai tree’s pods, leaves, and bark are high in vitamins A, C, D, E, and K. It can be used as a shampoo to clean hair, as hair oil, or even as a hair mask to nourish and speed up the growth of hair.1 

Can I Use Shikakai Daily?

Yes, bathing hair with shikakai every day is fine. In fact, shikakai maybe superior to commercial shampoos when it comes to hair. Because it contains natural saponins, shikakai helps to cleanse the hair.3 Kindly do not self-medicate, consult your Ayurvedic physician for detailed prescription.

Does Shikakai Cause Hair Loss?

Shikakai is a fantastic tonic for all hair issues. Although Shikakai does not cause hair loss, too much of it might cause the hair follicles to dry up and become brittle.4 Please follow instructions and advice given by your doctor while using shikakai.

Does Shikakai Remove Dandruff?

Because of its unique capacity to cleanse without irritating the scalp, shikakai may be helpful as an anti-dandruff agent. It’s maybe especially good for treating chronic dandruff caused by too much oil on the scalp. When applied on a daily basis, Shikakai may help to eliminate excess oil from the scalp and reduces dandruff.4 However, any herb should not be used without proper consultation with a doctor.

Can We Use Conditioner After Shikakai?

Because shikakai shampoo does not strip the hair of its natural oils during the washing process, a conditioner is usually not required afterward. The shampoo can also be used to detangle hair.3 More research is needed to understand the extent to which shikakai would benefit humans.

Can You Eat Shikakai Powder?

Due to its potetial cleaning and anti-fungal characteristics, shikakai might be used alone or in conjunction with reetha and amla as a shampoo to help manage hair fall and dandruff. Moreover, because of its laxative properties, drinking shikakai infusion can aid with constipation.3 

Does Shikakai Cause Dandruff?

No, shikakai does not cause dandruff; rather, its unique ability to cleanse without hurting the scalp makes it an effective anti-dandruff agent.4 

Does Shikakai Dry Out Hair?

Shikakai has strong moisturising, conditioning, and hydrating characteristics that assist to prevent hair from becoming dry and frizzy. As a result, shikakai does not cause hair to dry out.4 

How to Use Reetha and Shikakai for Hair? 

Overnight soak shikakai pods, reetha, and amla in water. The next day, bring the water to a boil until all of the ingredients have softened. Strain the mixture thoroughly and use it as a hair shampoo.6 

References: 

  1. Raja AXV, Sama K. Phytochemical and biochemical analysis of the plant extract of Acacia concinna (wild). International Journal of Pharmaceutical Research & Development.2012; 3(12): 136-139. 
  1. Balkrishna A. Acacia Miller Fabaceae (Acacia concinna Willd. DC). World Herbal Encyclopedia (Angiosperms Part-1). 2017; 349-354. 
  1. Khanpara K, Renuka V, Harisha CR. A detailed investigation on shikakai (Acacia concinna Linn.) fruit. Journal of Current Pharmaceutical Research. 2012;9(10):06-10. 
  1. Acacia concinna – Shikakai. www.flowersofindia.net. Retrieved 8 September 2018. 
  1. Hazra J, Panda AK. Concept of beauty and ayurveda medicine. J Clin Exp Dermatol Res. 2013; 4(3): 1-4. 
  1. Utane R, Deo S, Itankar P. Preparation of herbal Shampoo (HS) by green method and their characterization. International Journal of Research in Social Sciences and Information. 2017; 5: 254-258. 

Disclaimer:

The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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